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NEWS | March 2, 2022

U.S. Army North honors new additions to Caisson Platoon

By Pfc. Noelani Keene U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) Public Affairs

U.S. Army North hosted a dedication ceremony at the Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle to welcome four new horses to their Caisson Platoon Jan. 28.

Since U.S. Army North flows with tradition, the horses were named after select Medal of Honor recipients and a retired sergeant major of the Army.

Robert Naething, U.S. Army North’s deputy to the commanding general, expressed gratitude during the ceremony to the donors for contributing the horses to the Caisson Platoon, which ensures any service member buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery receives appropriate funeral honors.

“We thought we would never get this many donors,” Naething said. “And because the community has come forward, we’re now actively doing Caisson missions and really taking care of our fallen heroes.”

The four horses were gifted the names of Munemori, Montgomery, Hasemoto, and Van Autreve, all reflecting the poignant sacrifice of the inspiring service members they were titled after.

U.S. Army Lt. Col Richard Teta, commander of U.S. Army North’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, paid commemoration to the impact of the caisson’s new additions.

“By continuing tradition such as this, the legacy of the men and women who sacrificed so much of themselves for our nation lives on,” said Teta. “It is up to us to keep shining the light on those who have come before us so that their contributions and sacrifices may truly never be forgotten.”

The name for Munemori derives from Pfc. Sadao Munemori, the first Japanese-American Soldier to receive a Medal of Honor, who was also the only one to receive the award immediately after World War II. He was awarded the prestigious medal for his efforts and ultimate sacrifice during the war.

Montgomery was named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jack Cleveland Montgomery, who was awarded after single-handedly eliminating three enemy fronts near Padiglione, Italy, during World War II.

Hasemoto, named after Private Mikio Hasemoto, is a Soldier who repelled the enemy attacks of 40 soldiers near Cerasuolo, Italy, during World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his astounding heroism and devotion to duty for our nation.

Lastly, Van Autreve, named after the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army Leon L. Van Autreve is the final addition to the herd. Van Autreve served a valiant career of 31 years. He contributed greatly toward the education reform and empowerment efforts for noncommissioned officers, as well as the founding of the Fort Sam Houston Caisson section.

“Our Caisson exemplifies our military traditions and serves as a living tribute to the history of America’s Armed Forces, whether performing funeral honors or while proudly representing Army North and the United States Army during events in and around Military City, USA,” Teta said.

“Thank you to the donors and everyone who celebrated with us today,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Peggy Carter, the current president of the Uniformed Veterinary Medical Association. Carter went on to recognize the families and other community members in attendance who donated the Caisson horses.

Serving as one of the two within the entire U.S. Army, the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Platoon honors fallen members of the military with funeral honors at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of the donors who have made it possible for us to procure our horses and continue our vital mission and also to the Uniformed Veterinary Medical Association for their sustained support,” Teta said.

The ceremony demonstrated great collective efforts of the local community to preserve both the key traditions within the Caisson Platoon and the extraordinary legacy of the service members together.